Family Systems and the Addictive Process
I. Course Prefix/Number: PSY 234
Course Name: Family Systems and the Addictive Process
Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)
III. Course (Catalog) Description
Course explores various family systems theories. Content includes patterns of communication, roles adopted by family members, and development of identity and self-esteem in the family. Focus is on relationship of dysfunctional family systems to addictive process, and methods of helping families move to healthier level of functioning.
IV. Learning Objectives
The student will:
- examine the family as a complex, homeostatic system with emphasis on family rules, boundaries and roles.
- understand how one's own family system influenced their development and behavior and the importance of working through unresolved/ongoing issues.
- explore therapeutic models for the family as a system.
- understand how addictions and high stress family systems develop and affect the individual and the family as a system.
- understand co-dependency and enabling in the dysfunctional family system.
- be able to identify the development of roles in the family particularly in reaction to dysfunctional family systems, high stress families and addictions.
V. Academic Integrity and Student Conduct
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.
There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.
Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at
VI. Sequence of Topics
- The Structure and Process of Family Systems
- patterns of family interaction
- functional and dysfunctional family systems
- expressions of family dysfunction
- Historical and Theoretical Foundations of Family Systems Theory and Addictive Process Models
- Origins, Roots and Growth of Family Therapy
- Theoretical Perspectives in Family Therapy
- psychodynamic and related models
- experiential/humanistic models
- family systems theory
- structural family therapy
- communication models
- behavioral models
- recovery models
- The Addictive Family System
- family roles
- pathological responses
- dysfunction in the family
VII. Methods of Instruction
Methods of instruction may include lectures, discussions, readings, papers, audio-visual resources, individual and group projects, simulations, guest speakers, case studies, exercises, group interactions, and role playing.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.
VIII. Course Practices Required
- Papers - Students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded. This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical papers.
- Tests and exams
- Participation in class discussions
- Projects and reports
IX. Instructional Materials
Representative texts may include:
Lawson, Ann W. and Lawson, Gary. (1998). Alcoholism and the Family: A Guide to Treatment and Prevention. (2nd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Sheff, David. (2009). Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.
Sheff, Nic. (2008). Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
X. Methods of Evaluating Student Progress
XI. Other Course Information
- Mandatory attendance
- Course policies
- Important dates
If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.
Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.
Resources and support for
- pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
- victims of sexual misconduct
Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.